Hampshire have spent the past four years challenging Yorkshire and Lancashire’s domination of the English amateur game.
But Justin Rose winning gold at the Olympics could be the defining moment in what will see the champions of the south in six of the past 10 years finally deliver even more success for one of the oldest county golf union’s in the country.
Rose is a product of the same Hampshire junior golf programme that has produced current British amateur champion Scott Gregory, England’s youngest-ever amatuer champ, Harry Ellis, and former Walker Cup player Sam Hutsby.
And Wayne Matthews – the current Hampshire under-14 manager – is convinced Rose’s Rio result will make his job of helping the best county prospects get even better quicker.
‘For any young golfer, seeing Justin Rose winning the Olympics gives them the belief and motivation that one day they will be able to following in his footsteps,’ said Matthews.
‘Within the Hampshire boys’ set-up, Justin, as a US Open winner, already has a special place in their hearts and minds.
‘As a Hampshire junior, he went through our county programme, so the boys feel a connection, they can reach out and touch him.
‘As a junior he played the same courses as them, he won the same events they aspire to win, and his name appears on honours boards across the county.
‘And as a young amateur he played in The Open – something all junior golfers dream of.
‘But it is not all about the winning. Justin is held in high esteem as an all-round golfing professional, talented, hardworking, mentally focused and determined.
‘He wanted the Olympic gold medal, he prepared for it and executed his plan. That’s a lesson to any junior golfer who aspires to play on the global tours.’
Matthews’ own son, Nick, was last year’s Hampshire under-14 player of the year – and is a huge Rose fans.
‘Nick has a life-size cardboard banner of him up in his bedroom,’ added Matthews.
Keith Maplesden, a past captain and president at Liphook GC, forged a strong link with the Rose family.
He said: ‘I watched Justin grow up and mature playing golf for Hampshire and England.
‘All through that period, and during his early years struggling as a young professional, Justin always appreciated the help he received from the golf union.
‘Justin is always willing to help in any way he can.
‘He was always a very polite person who played golf with a smile on his face, and it will always be one of the great memories of my time in the game having watched him go on to all the success he has achieved.’